- It is believed that the Islamists of Somalia Courts Movement have tightened their grip over power in Somaliland, where its members control almost every sector of the economy. As the Mogadishu Islamists are threatening to attack Somaliland, authorities fear they could get support from within.
According to editor-cum-poet of 'Awdalnews' in Somaliland, Bashir Goth, the Islamists' grip of Somaliland's economy is an open secret, for they control all small businesses, including small money transfer institutions as well as own and run hundreds of schools.
Several prominent members of the Islamist Courts Movement in Somalia were said to be part of Al-ittihad, a Somali jihadist movement put in connection with Al Qaeda, but defeated in the end-1990s.
"As far as I know there are several members of [the Islamist courts movement] UIC who used to be members of the Al Ittihad,” confirmed editor of Somaliland’s Awdalnews, Bashir Goth. Mr Goth named Sheikh Dahir Aweys as the most prominent sheikh and a one time military commander of the group.
The group was led by another Sheikh Ali Warsame who recently left Somaliland for Mogadishu. "The two prominent leaders are in-laws. Besides, Mr Warsame is married to Mr Aweys' sister."
Sheikh Warsame was the spiritual leader of the Al-ittihad that is similar to a mullah of Afghanistan or Ayatollah of Iran, he explained.
Sheikh Warsame is a Saudi taught wahabi cleric who hailed from Somaliland's town of Buroa. He created Al-Ittihad Al-Islami in 1984. When his group was defeated by the Ethiopian backed current Somali transitional President Abdillahi Yusuf in the end-1990s, Mr Warsame went into hiding in Buroa where he led a low profile life. However, the Sheikh reportedly had contacts with his lieutenants who included Sheikh Dahir Aweys.
An article ran by 'Adwalnews' said the Islamist Courts Movement Chairman, Sheikhh Aweys and his minions received moral and material support – including an endorsement from the world's most wanted man Osama bin Ladin and funding from various Islamic charities. The movement is also supported by Arab, Afghan, Kashmiri, Pakistani, Palestinian, and Syrian fighters.
It was further revealed that the "insignificant contribution" to the Islamists' victory came from a massive fraud involving a money transfer business that operated until a few months ago with licenses in several US states, including Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and Wisconsin.
"The company in question, Dalsan, was, depending on the account, usually described as either the largest or the second-largest Somali money-wiring company (its competitor was Al-Barakaat, whose assets were frozen by Executive Order 13224 almost immediately after 9/11)."
In addition to its US offices, Dalsan had offices in Great Britain, Kenya, and the United Arab Emirates - one of the few countries to still accept passports from the non-state of Somalia, just as it was one of only three countries to recognise the Taliban regime in Afghanistan - as well as representatives in various other countries.
At its height in the aftermath of the US actions against Al-Barakat, estimates a report by European Commission's Nairobi-based Somali Unit, Dalsan, which was established in August 2001, was moving at least US$ 100 million a year.
According to internal estimates by the United Nations Development Programme in Somalia, by charging between US$ 1 and US$ 4 per remittance transaction, the company was bringing in between $400,000 and $500,000 per month.
Dalsan also was involved in the money transfer business in Somaliland. It is believed that much of the finance sector in Somaliland indeed is in the hands of the Islamist movement.
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